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We’d rather be right than happy

Student: Why do you emphasize that ideas, notions, hopes and expectations are the problem? Roshi: The thing we are most attached to, of course, is what I call my self, which includes my ideas, notions and beliefs about who I am. So this “I” and whatever I call Me, My or Mine are the most difficult things to let go of or drop. As long as an idea or belief…

Taking sanity for granted

Student: In the voice of sanity and disowned sanity, I just realized that it’s so much taken for granted in this practice, at least by me. As you said, it’s always there, but you have to choose it and not just take it for granted because it’s always there. Roshi: That’s right. Well, we know that taking things for granted is a big delusion. We know that that’s a big…

Real freedom

This is a response to a question from a reader of Genpo Roshi’s most recent post, “Having No Preference”.   What I mean when I say to be really free, and the reason why I call it the most difficult thing in our practice, is that in my experience one can have numerous experiences of awakening and liberation and still not manifest that liberation or freedom in the world of…

Having no preference

Student: We often hear the comment, “Just have no preference and everything will be fine.” It sounds straightforward and yet it seems impossible to practice in today’s world. Can you say more about this? Roshi: There was a time in the 80’s and early 90’s when I saw it this way. Today, more than 20 years later, I now see that this advice to have no preference is still holding…

Zen for the world

Transcend discrimination of opposites Discover total reality And achieve detachment This is true freedom. Shinjingakudo – “Learning through the body and mind” Dogen Zenji (1200-1253) Transcend discrimination of opposites is what I mean by include and embrace the opposites. Discover total reality in Big Heart Zen is what is meant by the Apex. And achieve detachment is what I mean by detaching from the opposites. This is true freedom. Historically…

What does Big Mind mean?

By Genpo Roshi I’m using “Big” with the sense of the Japanese word Dai, or the Sanskrit word Maha, meaning great or big. “Mind” when preceded by Dai or Maha means a mind with no limits or boundaries. A quote from the 6th Patriarch: “The capacity of the mind is so great, it’s like space. But if you practice Empty-mind Zen, you will fall into a featureless void. In this…

Overwhelming emotion

Student:  How do we work with overwhelming emotion?  Roshi:  Well, the only reason it’s overwhelming is that we’re not allowing our self to experience it fully.  There’s no such thing as an overwhelming emotion; there’s just emotion. When we repress it, it becomes overwhelming.  When we open ourselves to it, nothing’s overwhelming.  It’s like a storm in the sky, the empty sky, and the storm fills the sky.  But it’s not too much for the sky.  When the…

What is out there is in me

Student: It occurred to me that one reason the thinking mind is disowned is there are a lot of things that one would rather not think about. For example, why we have so much and thousands of babies are being born in rubbish heaps every day, and why corporations control governments that have millions of lives in their hands and their only motive is profit, or, you know, whatever it…

Zazen, Koans and Voices

Student: I notice when I try to work with disowned voices it gets difficult to identify them and pull them apart. Do you have any tips or tricks to work with that? Roshi: I don’t know about tricks, but I’m glad you brought this up because I’ve been asked this very often by people who say they have a difficult time meditating in the voices, particularly the disowned voices. What…

Disappointment

by Zen Master D. Genpo Merzel Q: How is it that disappointment can bring about enlightenment or an awakening? Genpo: Disappointment is a cruel but vigorous teacher. We all enter the spiritual path with many ideas, notions, hopes and expectations. It is our hope that the spiritual path will save us from our fears, loneliness and feelings of emptiness. The more we attach to the notion or idea that something such…

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